The deaths of two more people who I knew but who never knew me have occurred that I don't want to overlook.
First is Curt Gowdy. Anyone who is over the age of 25 probably remembers Mr. Gowdy. He announced almost every important sporting event on television (World Series, Super Bowl, NCAA tournament, playoffs, etc.) in my life until I was a teenager. Kind of like Joe Buck will be remembered 50 years from now.
He also was the original host of American Sportsman. He was the voice of the Boston Red Sox. Voice of the NFL on NBC. Voice of the MLB Game of the Week on NBC Saturday afternoons. Member of the Baseball Hall of Fame. He even was at the mike for the famous "Heidi" NFL game. If there was a big game, you knew he'd be announcing. Conversely, if you tuned in and he was announcing, you knew it was the big game that week.
He was still on TV at times. I would still see him on ESPN Classic quite a bit. He had a great low-pitched voice, although his enunciation was sometimes not the greatest. The thing was, like Harry Carry, he sounded like a regular guy. He didn't have the plastic broadcaster voice typically heard today.
And like a lot of the older announcers, he not only sounded like a regular guy, he was a regular guy. He would spend time with people, talking with athletes, fans, or broadcasting wannabes. From all accounts, a class act in a world without much of that left.
And then we come to a one of a kind talent.
To say Don Knotts had perfected the art of comedic acting is like saying water is wet. It's too obvious.
Of all the television sitcoms that were ever on the air, I propose only two were as popular as they were because the supporting actors, not the show's namesake stars, really carried the show.
Both of those shows finished their last season on television as the top rated shows on TV. The first would be The Andy Griffith Show (supported by Mr. Knotts' "Barney Fife"). The other is Seinfeld (supported by Michael Richards' "Kramer").
Don Knotts portrayal of "Barney The Beast", "Fast-gun Fife", "Bernie", or whatever other name you might call him, was genius. And although he went on to star in several mildly successful movies, and in Three's Company on TV, he will forever be remembered as Deputy Fife.
Here are some of my favorite remembrances, of Barney, the SINGLE GREATEST character in TV history:
- Barney's malapropisms- kleptomenerac (kleptomaniac), compelsion complex (compulsion complex), Sigmund Frude (Freud), schizofreeniac (schizophrenic), Einsteen (Einstein).
- Quotable Barney:
[shouting to several prisoners]
Barney Fife: Now here at the Rock we have two rules. Memorize them until you can say them in your sleep. Rule number one: obey all rules. Rule number two: no writing on the walls.
Barney Fife: The last big buy was my mom's and dad's anniversary present.
Andy Taylor: What'd ya get 'em?
Barney Fife: A septic tank.
Andy Taylor: For their anniversary?
Barney Fife: They're awful hard to buy for. Besides, it was something they could use. They were really thrilled. It had two tons of concrete in it. All steel reinforced.
Andy Taylor: You're a fine son, Barn.
Barney Fife: I try.
Barney Fife: Man, we really packed it away, didn't we?
Andy Taylor: Yeah, boy.
Barney Fife: Fortunately, none of mine goes to fat. All goes to muscle.
Andy Taylor: Does, huh?
Barney Fife: It's a mark of us Fifes. Everything we eat goes to muscle. [pats tummy] See there?
Barney Fife: Well, today's eight-year-olds are tomorrow's teenagers. I say this calls for action and now! Nip it in the bud! First sign of youngsters going wrong, you've got to nip it in the bud.
Andy Taylor: I'm going to have a talk with them. What else do you want me to do?
Barney Fife: Well, don't just mollycoddle them.
Andy Taylor: I won't.
Barney Fife: Nip it! You go read any book you ant on the subject of child discipline and you'll find every one of them is in favor of bud-nipping.
Barney Fife: If there's anything that upsets me, it's having people say I'm sensitive.
[Reassuring Opie after releasing a group of dogs to the countryside as a thunderstorm approaches.]
Barney Fife: A dog can't get struck by lightning. you know why? 'Cause he's too close to the ground. See, lightning strikes tall things. Now if they were giraffes out there in the field, now then we'd have trouble.
Barney Fife: Boy, giraffes are selfish.
Barney Fife: [angry] Oh, you're just full of fun today, aren't you? Why don't we go up to the old people's home and wax the steps?
Andy: What are you doing?
Barney Fife: Gun-drawing practice, ten minutes every day. If I ever have to use this baby, I want to teach it to come to papa in a hurry.
Barney Fife: Well, I guess to sum it up, you could say, there's three reasons why there's so little crime in Mayberry. There's Andy, and there's me, and [patting gun] baby makes three.
Barney Fife: If only someone would just kill somebody...
Barney Fife: Well, maybe somebody would come through town and if they was gonna do some killin' anyways, they may as well do it here.
Barney Fife: They don't do things that way anymore. This is the Age of Science Know-How, electronal marvels. _______
Barney Fife: What's the matter, haven't you ever seen a man take off a dress before?
Barney Fife: All I'm saying is that there are some things beyond the ken of mortal man that shouldn't be tampered with. We don't know everything, Andy. There's plenty going on right now in the Twilight Zone that we don't know anything about and I think we ought to stay clear.
Barney Fife: [to a group of boys] Boys, when that steel door slams shut, that's the end of the happy days. No more fishin', no more ball playin', no more peanut butter sandwiches. [Door slams shut behind Barney]
Andy Taylor: [little boy holds out sandwich to Barney] No, No Leon; Barney can't have that.
Barney Fife: You're real funny, you know that. We ought to book you on one of those excursion lines.
Barney Fife: [Andy and Barney are watching a sign painter] Ain't he got chicken spelled wrong?
Andy Taylor: No, it's right.
Barney Fife: You sure?
Andy Taylor: Yeah, it's "i before e except after c and e before n in chicken".
Barney Fife: [chuckles] Oh yeah, I always forget that rule.
[Andy has told Rafe Hollister to try out for the musical]
Barney Fife: I'm surprised at you, Andy. They want people who have had musical training. Why, suppose they ask Rafe to do something he don't know? Rafe, if they asked you to sing a cappella, could you do it?
Rafe Hollister: No.
Andy Taylor: Hey, Barn, what if they was to ask you if you could sing a cappella, what would *you* do?
Barney Fife: Why, I'd do it! [snapping fingers in rhythm]
Barney Fife: "A cappella, a cappella"... Well, I don't remember all the words.
(Barney) “Emancipation proclamation was a proclamation, is what it was”
(Andy) What was it about?
(Barney) “It was about Emancipation !!! What do you think it was about? Use your head man !! Its common knowledge” There was these folks. And how else was they gonna get themselves emancipated, unless there was a proclamation.” “So they got themselves a proclamation, and they called it “The Emancipation Proclamation” I’m surprised at you for not knowing that Andy !! And I’ll tell you something else.” “I’m even more surprised that you think I don’t know about the Emancipation Proclamation”
Barney (about Ernest T. Bass): "He's a first class, grade A nut."
The Preamble to the Constitution recitation by Barney cannot be put down on paper to do it justice, but I HAVE to mention it here.
And, of course, my all time favorite, which I just refer to as "Barney's Bat Eggs:"
"I never did like caves. You know what you find in caves? Bats! That's right, bats! And do you know what they do? They fly into your hair and get tangled up in there and lay their eggs and you go crazy. All right, laugh! It's happened. Do you want a head full of bat eggs? I don't!" [Spoken at Lost Lovers' Cave].
Thanks to CoJoWeb's Andy Samuel Griffith, The Andy Griffith Show Episode Guide, IMBD, CNN, and TV Acres for all the quotes.
Ugh. Life marches on quickly to the grave. For us all.